The Grown Up generation – musings of a Y-gen voter

This morning I received an email from a friend I’ve known since Primary School. It feels like yesterday, but the words in the email reminded me it was long, long ago. “This,” she had written, “is my grownup email address.” I believe she no longer requires the world to know she loves Elvis and is his number one fan.

Alas, I still feel the need to allow my music and lifestyle tastes to be demonstrated by my email. No, scrap that. I still like my email address, everyone knows it, and I feel no need to change it to demonstrate I’m a grownup. It also helps that I don’t actually consider myself ‘grown up’. When I dress in a suit I feel like a little girl wearing her mother’s clothes. I still rarely wear high heels (my gorgeous purple boots are an exception) and I still expect to be seated at the kid’s table at family celebrations.

Of course, I have a degree, have survived several years without parental supervision, drive madly around in a little car without glaring ‘P’ plates on it, and generally live as a ‘grownup’. Then something funny like this email happens and I’m reminded that I am a ‘grownup’ even if I don’t feel like one, and being a ‘grownup’ means more than changing the vacuum cleaner bag on your own. I have to VOTE. Worst of all, I have been asked to write a blog about what influences Gen Y to vote the way they do. Sure, I voted in the last election, but the conversation regarding voting in my family went something like this:

Parent: ‘I’m worried about your sister.’

Me: ‘Really? Why? Is she OK?’

Parent: ‘She told me she was voting for Rudd.’

Me: ‘OK … ‘

Parent: ‘Well, what do we do about it?’

Me: ‘I wouldn’t worry too much. The last conversation we had included her asking me which party Rudd was in so she could make sure she ticked the right box.’

Politics were never something we really talked about in my family, and politics has never been something I’ve been interested to talk about. I actually can’t tell you what influences Gen Y when they vote, so I did what any self-respecting member of the Net Generation would do. I Googled it.

I learnt a lot about my generation! Apparently, we’re faced with questions about our personal financial future, the world’s environmental future, and globalisation. It’s true … We’re trying to figure out how to buy a house, save the whales, and fit into a big, big world that we can reach out to in a matter of seconds online. We liked Rudd: he was young(er) and appeared on Rove and had a FaceBook page. We didn’t like Howard: he was old and out of touch, and we all knew he was going to retire and this is like knowing our parents are going to get divorced. We’re trying to avoid the ‘mistakes’ our parents made by getting it right the first time, so why would we vote for someone who wasn’t even going to see it through?

I have no idea who I am going to vote for; my sister informed me ‘there was no way [she’d] vote for that bogan’, but I’m not sure she’s the best judge of politics. Then again, neither am I. You see, I have a problem with the attacks against Gillard. Regardless of her politics, I get annoyed when I read criticism over how she dresses and her relationship with whatshisface. Gen Y doesn’t care that she wears trouser suits and lives unmarried with a man; most of us do, too. I would tentatively suggest, however, that we don’t vote for parties. We vote for the leaders. While we don’t care what our leaders wear or who they’re married or unmarried to, there are certain things we need in a leader. We want a leader who will make sure we each have the opportunity to be happy. That’s it. We want to know who will make sure we have jobs and careers to pursue, who will save us from global warming (hint: the first step is to admit it exists), and who will ensure we don’t get left behind by the rest of the world.

Maybe we thought we had it nailed with Rudd, but we’re all a bit disillusioned now. Like the Americans with Obama, we’re sadly recognising that nothing is really happening. We made the change, but nothing has changed. How many more do we need to make?

– Stef Thompson August 2010

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